Organized by 2009 CMCL-FAIMER Regional Institute Fellow Angel Magar through the Nepal Medical Association, a meeting on medical education in Nepal was held June 28, 2009, in Kathmandu. Entitled “National Consultative Meeting on Undergraduate vs. Postgraduate’s Seats: Rationale, Challenges and Future Prospective in Nepal,” the meeting addressed the imbalance between the number of medical graduates (approximately 2,000) in Nepal per year and the number of postgraduate seats (approximately 375) available to them. Dr. Magar explained that “with the introduction of privatization in the early 1990s, medical education in Nepal took a giant leap in terms of opening new medical colleges,” but that a corresponding growth in the number of positions for graduates has not materialized. Some physicians may pursue careers outside of Nepal, but Dr. Magar points out that the backlog of unplaced physicians may be growing by as much as 1,500 per year, and that “if Nepal doesn’t address the issue in time, there might be a catastrophe in this field.” More than 72 stakeholders took part in the meeting, including representatives from Nepal’s Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Higher Technical Committee, Planning Commission, and Medical Council, as well as principals, deans, and vice chancellors from Nepal’s colleges, a representative from the World Health Organization, and other Nepalese medical educationists.
All participants in the meeting agreed that there is a need for change in Nepal’s medical education system, and they resolved on the following recommendations:
- Increase the number of postgraduate positions by 40% (at least for the short term).
- Establish a Medical Education Bureau to govern the medical education system in Nepal.
- Introduce a licensing examination for undergraduates and postgraduates to ensure quality.
- Institute a common entrance examination.
The Nepal Medical Association will forward these recommendations to the concerned authorities and institutions and will continue to advocate for the changes.
Dr. Magar credits Open University’s Distance Learning Resources for Medical Education program for giving him the inspiration and tools to tackle the issues in his home country. Developed by FAIMER and the World Federation for Medical Education in collaboration with Open University Centre for Education in Medicine in the United Kingdom, the Distance Learning Resources for Medical Education program was created with the understanding that medical education needs worldwide could not be met using conventional training courses. The program includes a series of distance learning modules that focuses on accreditation and standards for medical education institutions with an emphasis on finding practical ways of dealing with their local circumstances.